Feeling Today: 👍
So Far: 956.23 miles, 310:03 hours
We met Darren off the Exeter train and Bev, Wilf and Peggy joined us for the first mile or two of the Tarka Trail along the southern edge of the Taw estuary, which also forms the South West Coastal Path. It was flat all the way through Instow and onto Bideford, and there were more cyclists than walkers.
At Bideford we took the older, lower bridge crossing across the Torridge, into which teenagers were recklessly throwing themselves from the quay whilst rowers glided by – a lot more quietly.
We climbed out of Bideford and through Northam to reach Westward Ho! and left the brown tidal muds of the estuary for the golden sands of the seaside, stretching past Braunton Burrows and over to Saunton Sands. Darren and I said goodbye to Henry and found our B&B in one of the village’s historic houses.
Westward Ho! has plenty of history, as well as being the only place with an exclamation mark in its name! Rudyard Kipling spent some informative years here (and the first verse of ‘If’ is inlaid into a pavement), it has the earliest English golf course (and in John Henry Taylor, a five time Open winner), and claims to be the birth place of British surfing (with that board I thought of you, Martin!).
There is still a tidal lido, some rusty remnants of the pier, and some grand villas remaining from its time as a Victorian resort. But the village front is now dominated by modern blocks of smart apartments, alongside some cottages and holiday camps. It has a nice feel – I like Westward Ho!!
I’ve gone over estuaries and inlets at Fort William, Dornoch, the Mersey, Bristol Channel etc that might claim to be ‘the sea’, but this is really the first proper sea I’ve been alongside since John O’Groats. I’ll now keep it to my right all the way to the finish.